Is the real reason why your life’s quest of finding true love is so difficult because you only have one shot? Rom-coms at times have an almost disturbing pattern of characters needing several do-overs and exploring alternate realities to truly be happy with their lives. Here I explore what time travel really gave characters in rom coms and how much worse off the rest of us are living without this luxury.
The science (or lack thereof) of time travel
There is apparently no creative boundary as to how one can travel through time. “When We First Met” features a photo booth that can inexplicably transport people to the past, “13 Going on 30” has sparkling wishing dust and in “About Time”, time travel is an ability men in the Lake family possess. Only “Back to the Future” has an intentionally designed time machine, while in “Midnight in Paris” dreamy-eyed Gil is transported in time by the streets of Paris itself. So if you are wondering which object in your house you should attach yourself to in hopes of going back in time, it can be anything from your furniture to an item on your grocery list.
Did time travel make life better?
This is a debatable question although in general it did bring closure if not a better reality to the characters. In “13 Going On 30”, Jenna Rink has a lot of misplaced priorities like most teenagers do. Travelling to her future shows Jenna how much of a horrible person she could become and scares her into becoming a better person early on. A good scare to improve our personal relationships is something a lot of us could do with.
Was it necessary?
In “When We First Met”, Noah keeps attempting to woo Avery in every imaginable way possible only to realise (spoiler alert) she wasn’t the girl who he should be pursuing. Honestly, just a bit more clarity and acceptance in real life could’ve showed Noah who he should be pursuing instead but hey what’s a good love story without some time travel?
What did it teach the characters?
The most valuable (and relatable) life lesson was learnt by Tim in “About Time” when he discovers that life should be appreciated each day to the fullest and we should be grateful for each person around us because we never know when our last interaction with them will be (easy to understand for a guy who keeps zapping back and forth in time repeatedly). Gil in “Midnight in Paris” of course also learns an important lesson against romanticising the past like a lot of us tend to do. We tend to think life was so much better ‘x’ number of years ago without realising how biased and fantastical those views are. A little trip to the past is the best trick to take the rose-tinted glasses off.
And what about the rest of us?
For those of us who don’t get any do-overs in life, the best we can do is learn from the characters who did – we count our blessings, be accepting of our circumstances, and make sure we don’t mess up our relationships.
If there’s one thing time travel movies teach us is how far reaching consequences all our actions have.
Special mention: I’m still trying to figure out the science behind “17 Again” (if it was just his body that went back in time does it count as time travel? Perhaps not.)
Mrittika Anan Rahman is a daydreamer trying hard not to run into things while walking. Find her at email@example.com